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only in the case of absolute truth. But the revelation of God, when misinterpreted, when taken not in its exact sense, is not absolute truth, and therefore cannot be so evidenced to the mind as to elicit faith. But we must have faith, or be eternally damned. Then you must take the revelation in its exact sense, or not be saved.
Do you reply, that faith, in this sense, is impossible, because it is impossible to have infallible certainty of the exact mind of the Spirit ? This is a plain begging of the question. Impossible, on your ground, we admit ; but not, therefore, necessarily, on every ground. Your objection merely proves that you cannot, as Protestants, elicit an act of faith, which is what we contend ; but when you say therefore we cannot elicit faith at all, you assume that your ground is the true and only ground, which is what we deny, and what it is your business to prove. Because you cannot elicit faith, it does not follow that faith cannot be elicited. God has commanded it, as you yourselves
, dare not deny ; but God cannot command what is impossible ; therefore the faith is possible. Then the fact that it is not possible, on your ground, only proves that you are wrong, and out of the way of salvation.
One of the objections we brought against the Bible, as the witness to the fact of revelation, was, that, without an infallible authority, distinct from the Bible, it is impossible to prove the sufficiency of the Scriptures. We contended, for several reasons, which we gave, that they who take the Bible, as interpreted by private reason alone, for the only and sufficient rule of faith, are bound to prove that their rule is sufficient from the Sacred Scriptures themselves. But this they cannot do, for the Scriptures nowhere assert their own sufficiency. The Observer, with its Protestant logic, contends that they are not bound to prove the sufficiency of the Scriptures, but that we are bound to prove their insufficiency! But it nowhere takes up or replies to our objections, and nowhere shows on what principle we are bound to prove a negative. Doubtless, if we deny a proposition, we are bound to justify our denial by adducing a good reason for it ; but in most cases it is sufficient to allege the fact that the affirmative proposition is not proved. Protestants assert the sufficiency of the Scriptures ; it is their business to prove that sufficiency, and by divine authority, too, - a thing they never have done, and a thing they know perfectly well, if they know any thing of the subject, they never can do. By what right do they assume a position, without offering a single particle of evidence appropriate in the case to prove it, and then call upon us to disprove it? Is rational culture so neglected among Protestants, and even Protestant theologians, that they have no more sense of sound reasoning than this implies ?
But we went further, and disproved the sufficiency of the Scriptures, which was more than our argument required. Faith is to believe, without doubting, all the truths Almighty God has revealed, and, therefore, is possible only on condition that we have absolute certainty that what we receive as the revelation of God is his revelation, and the whole of his revelation, as we proved before and have now proved again. The witness, to be adequate, sufficient, must, then, testify to the fact that the matter believed or to be believed is the revelation, and the whole revelation. Now, to this last fact, namely, that they contain the whole revelation, or the whole word of God, the Scriptures do not testify. Therefore, they are insufficient, for this very reason, if for no other. This is the argument adduced in our article, and, certainly, before the Observer can legitimately claim the pleasure of having refuted us, and the right to assert the sufficiency of the Scriptures, it is bound to set this argument aside. But it does not even notice it.
The Observer, we apprehend, does not understand what a witness to the fact of revelation means.
He seems to reason on the supposition, that, when we contended for a witness to the fact of revelation, we meant merely that we must have a witness to the fact that God has made a revelation. We assure him this was not our meaning. We mean by the fact of revelation, not simply the fact that God has made a revelation, but that he has revealed this or that is a fact; and we mean by a witness to the fact of revelation, not merely a witness to revelation in general, but to each particular point of the revelation. Assume, for instance, that the mystery of the Trinity is the point in question. The ground of faith in this mystery is the veracity of God revealing it. But before we can know that we have God's veracity for the truth of this adorable mystery, we must know that God has revealed it, that is, the fact that he has revealed it. Now, the witness we demand is a witness to this fact, and to the like fact in every other case ; and unless we have such a witness - an infallible witness, too — in each particular case, we have and can have no faith. Does the Observer understand this ? Will it deny that a witness, and an infallible witness, in the sense here defined, is the con
VOL. II. NO, III.
dition sine qua non of faith? Can it say that God has revealed this or that article of faith, if it have no witness to the fact that God has revealed it ? Can it say it with absolute certainty without an infallible witness ? and if it cannot say with infallible certainty that God has revealed it, can it believe, without doubting, that he has revealed it ? No man has faith, till he can say with St. Augustine, “ O God, if I am deceived, Thou hast deceived me," and this, too, in every single article of faith. Who can say this, unless he has infallible evidence that the particular article, which is in question, is actually God's word?
We must, then, have the witness, or faith is impossible. What is this witness ? We stated that it must be, 1. Reason ; 2. The Bible ; 3. Private illumination ; or, 4. The Apostolic ministry, or Ecclesia docens. We demonstrated that it could not be the first three, and, therefore, inferred that it must be the fourth, or we have no witness. The Observer nowhere meets our arguments ; but merely cavils at one or two collateral points. It does not bring out, clearly and distinctly, any doctrine of its own ; but, so far as we can understand its loose statements, it assumes that the witness is the Bible, interpreted, not by private reason, but by private illumination, or what he calls - the internal monitor." We prove by historical testimony that the Scriptures contain the revelation of God, and by the internal monitor we ascertain its sense.
But, 1. We cannot, by historical testimony, prove that the Bible contains the whole revelation of God; and yet, assuming a revelation to have been made, and belief of it enjoined as the condition of being saved, we can demonstrate, as we have shown, by reason, that it is necessary to believe, and to know that we believe, the whole.
2. There are many false prophets gone out into the world, and we are not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits if they be of God. - 1 St. John, iv. 1.
There must, then, be some criterion by which we may distinguish the true from the false. This cannot be the internal monitor, because that is precisely what we are to try. What is this criterion ? The blessed Apostle tells us. " We are of God. He that knoweth God heareth us. He that is not of God heareth not us. By this we know the spirit of truth from the spirit of error.” Ib. 6. If you have the spirit of truth, you hear the Apostles, that is, abide in the Apostolic doctrine and communion. You must, then, prove that you abide in the Apostolic doctrine and
communion, before you have proved your right to follow your «internal monitor."
3. We are commanded to give a reason to them that ask us of the hope that is in us. But, according to the Observer itself, this inward witness is authority only for the individual himself, and, therefore, no reason to be assigned to others.
4. All men are required to believe the revelation God has made, on pain of eternal condemnation. To believe the revelation is to believe it in its integrity and genuine sense. But it must be propounded to those who are as yet unbelievers in this sense, as the condition of their believing it. Now, it must be propounded with infallible evidence that it is the revelation of God, or without it. If without it, unbelievers are justifiable in rejecting it, which no Christian can admit. But if the sense is to be ascertained only by the inward monitor of the individual, it cannot be propounded with the infallible evidence required, for this evidence must be evidence to the revelation in its genuine sense, since otherwise that which is evidenced would not be the word of God, but something else, — the words of man, or of the Devil.
5. The internal monitor is the Holy Ghost. Is the Holy Ghost given to unbelievers ? If you say yes, we demand the proof, which the Observer admits cannot be given. If you say no, then, we ask, where is the sin of unbelievers in that they are unbelievers ? The revelation is not believable, save in its true sense. They who are not privately illuminated by the Holy Ghost know not and cannot know it in its true sense. Then they cannot believe it. Yet they are, by all Christian theology, declared sinners in consequence of their unbelief. Is a man a sinner for not doing what he has not the ability to do?
6. But lastly, the practical effects of this doctrine prove that it is not of God. It paves the way for lawless enthusiasm, and the introduction of all manner of false doctrines. Every enthusiast may allege that he has the Holy Ghost, and though what he teaches is as false as hell and wicked as the Devil, you have no means of convicting him. He speaks by the Holy Ghost ; would you shut the mouth of the Holy Ghost? He follows the Spirit ; would you resist the Spirit ? Each man is the Ecclesia docens, and professes to speak with infallible authority. What will you do? What will you say?
Your mouth is shut. Does not the Spirit witness to itself? What right have you to oppose your Spirit to his ? Has he not as high authority as you have ? You say, No; he says, Yes ;
and how are you to prove your no is above his yes ? What is to decide between you ? The Bible ? Not so fast. Your rule of faith is the Bible interpreted by the internal monitor. He appeals to the Bible, as well as you ; and the question is not, whether the Bible be or be not the word of God, but whether he or you have its genuine sense. What does the Bible mean? You, on the authority of what you call the Holy Ghost, say it means this; he, on what he alleges to be the same authority, says it means that. Which of you is right? What is to decide ? Nothing. You cannot convict him, nor he you. There you are, eternally at loggerheads, and the most damnable heresies are rife in the land, and ruining the people, both for this world and for that which is to come. This is one of the glorious effects of your “glorious Reformation”! Can a doctrine, leading to such disastrous consequences, be a doctrine from God? And has Almighty God provided no safer rule for the instruction of his children in that faith he requires them to believe as the condition of being saved ? Out upon the foul blasphemy! Say it not, but rather go and sit in sackcloth and ashes at the foot of the cross, look on him ye have crucified, and weep in silence over your folly and wickedness.
The Observer complains of us, that we assumed, in our argument, that Protestants admit that God has made us a revelation, and that we did not reason with them as if they were Jews, Mahometans, or infidels. Perhaps we were wrong in this, but it will do us, we hope, the justice to acknowledge, that we did not assume them to be believers in the revelation of God; we only assumed that they profess to believe it, at least, some portions of it. We have known Protestants too long and too intimately to be guilty of the folly of inferring their belief from their profession. We hope this explanation will satisfy the Observer, and induce it to withdraw its complaint. We assumed that Protestants admit that God has made us a revelation, and that the Scriptures, so far as we had in our argument occasion to appeal to that revelation, contain an authentic record of it. This they profess; and in reasoning with them, we supposed it would be more respectful to take them at their profession than it would be to go behind it for their actual belief or want of belief.
If, however, they object to this, prefer to have us reason with them as if they were infidels, and really believe that this would be more in accordance with truth, we will hereafter do our best to accommodate them.
On one point the Observer seems really to believe that it has